2020 Water Protection and Land Use Zoning Policy Print

The Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, in collaboration with the Barbados Water Authority and several critical stakeholders, is pleased to share the Green Paper on the 2020 Water Protection and Land Use Zoning Policy for public consideration.

This document is to be subjected to critical review in a process of open national consultation as we seek to ensure that it clearly represents the new policy direction for water protection and land use zoning.

The Green Paper on the 2020 Water Protection and Land Use Zoning Policy describes the existing groundwater protection zoning policy, outlines its strengths and shortcomings and proposes a new integrated approach to protection of all the island’s water resources, including coastal waters.

The existing policy was created over 50 years ago, at a time of much less freshwater demand, a less densely populated island with most of its population concentrated on the south and west coasts, limited use of persistent hazardous chemicals, and in the absence of modern water and wastewater treatment technologies. Although progressive at the time, the existing policy is no longer adequate. It restricts development over large tracts of land and over the years there has been encroachment in some Zone 1 areas. The existing policy is ineffective against persistent chemical pollutants and only focuses on protecting groundwater to the detriment of coastal waters.

The new proposed water protection and land use policy is guided, inter alia, by the following principles:

  1. prevention is better than cure,
  2. systematic approaches are more effective than ad hoc, and
  3. policy should be guided by the best science.

It is recognised that all of Barbados may be considered a “coastal zone” and that it is an economic and environmental imperative to not only protect drinking water supplies but also our coral reefs. In this context, persistent pollutants (e.g. nitrates) become primary pollutants of concern and the new policy will seek to address both agriculture and sewage which are the main sources of nitrate pollution. An integrated approach which addresses sources of pollution, uses the best technology and practices, strengthens capacity and creates the appropriate regulatory and legislative structure is proposed.

Several studies have been conducted since the old policy was established in 1962. The recommendations contained in this Paper are as a result of the latest scientific information and modelling and were previously approved in 2011.

It is being proposed that the existing Zones 1 – 5 be replaced by new Zones A – E as outlined below:

  • Zone A – a strict exclusion zone, smaller in area than the existing Zone 1, with no new developments and restricted agriculture.
  • Zone B – a pathogen management zone, with stricter rules for sewage treatment and disposal.
  • Zone C – a chemicals management zone, with restrictions on chemicals storage, use and disposal. Regulations for nutrient removal (nitrates and phosphates) from wastewater that recognises potential impacts on nearshore ecosystems
  • Zone D – a recharge controlling zone, that encompasses the additional limestone areas, with continued standards for wastewater treatment.
  • Zone E – a non-recharge contributing area that primarily consists of areas that do not contribute to the recharge of aquifers (i.e. Scotland District). Again, there will be minimum standards for wastewater discharge with the objective of protecting coastal water quality.

If approved, the new policy will result in, inter alia:

  • Stricter control of chemical usage and disposal (including agrochemicals).
  • Sewering of communities around the Belle public supply well, which supplies almost one-third of the island’s drinking water.
  • Reduction in the use of suck wells as the primary method of domestic wastewater disposal.
  • Require developers of new developments to provide the means of protecting ground water and coastal waters whether by sewage treatment, wetlands, or other acceptable means as deemed appropriate.

The public is accordingly invited to submit comments on the Green Paper on the 2020 Water Protection and Land Use Zoning Policy to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Persons or entities submitting comments are advised to include your names and contact information with your email correspondence.

 

Download the full document here: icon 2020 Water Protection and Land Use Zoning Policy (3.25 MB).